Category Archives: Politics

Sharq Tanq

Entrepreneurship education used to be solely about starting for-profit businesses. That changed in the early 2000s. Instead of focusing on a single desired outcome, the discipline shifted its emphasis to human development. The spirit of this movement was captured by Guy Kawasaki, a member of the Apple team which developed the Mac computer. In his book Rules for Revolutionaries, Kawasaki wrote, “Entrepreneurship is the mindset of individuals who want to alter the future.”

In response, universities started offering courses in corporate entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and public entrepreneurship. Whether operating in a complex organization such as a Fortune 500 company, a mission driven not-for-profit entity or in the public sector, students were taught the value of opportunity recognition and problem solving based on the Timmons model of entrepreneurship: balancing opportunity with team and resources.

Being a political animal, I looked for occasions to demonstrate the efficacy of entrepreneurial thinking and behavior in the realm of governance and public policy. One such opportunity was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, 20 years ago today (Monday, March 20). I developed a lesson plan in which I asked students to think about the war effort as an entrepreneurial venture. I had not thought about this classroom moment for years until watching a rerun of Shark Tank on CNBC. And realized, if I were going to do something similar today I would fashion it after that show. Consider the following.

ANNOUNCER: Entering the Shark Tank are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Their company is called “Middle East Democracy” and  they believe they have come up with a unique way to introduce an old product to a new market.

BUSH: Hi, my name is George W. Bush. You can call me W. This is my partner Dick Cheney. We are bringing democracy to the Middle East. We are looking for a $1.5 trillion investment in exchange for the honor of being part of this noble enterprise.

MARK CUBAN: Mighty impressive. How did you come up with this idea?

BUSH: I got it from my Daddy. He dreamed about it since he was CIA director. For a short time in August 1990, he even tried to do it himself, but just couldn’t take it far enough.

KEVIN O’LEARY: As you know, Mr. Wonderful is interested in one thing, making money. How can I get my investment back and make a profit?

CHENEY: Easy. Just buy a few thousand shares of Haliburton, Raytheon and General Dynamics. That’s where most of the investment is going anyway. You’ll be counting your ROI faster than you can say “yellowcake low-grade uranium.”

BARBARA CORCORAN: Tell me about your sales so far?

BUSH: Well…

BARBARA: Do you at least have some orders?

BUSH: Well…

CHENEY: Let me handle this, son. Everybody loves democracy, especially American democracy. Those folks will welcome our troops, er, I mean sales reps, as soon as they land, oops, arrive.

ROBERT HERJAVEC: The Middle East is a very large market. Have you thought about a pilot program in just one country? I’d like to see some evidence of proof of concept before investing.

BUSH: Yes, sir! We thought we’d start in Iraq. Low hanging fruit, not to mention political opponents.

LORI GREINER: Tell me about your team. Are they prepared to take on such as big challenge?

CHENEY: Great team. Condi Rice. Colin Powell. Don Rumsfeld. And General Tommy Franks. The troops, damn it, account reps, could use some more training and samples, but sometimes you have to go to market with the sales force you have, not the one you need.

LORI:  How are you acquiring your  customers?

CHENEY:  We use guerilla marketing.  We simply drop in (some literally by parachute) and take over the market.

KEVIN: I’m still not sold. Anything else.

BUSH: They wanted to kill my Daddy.

CHENEY: Not sure that’s what he was looking for, boy. How about this? Truth is these guys are developing weapons of mass destruction. Nukes. Chemicals. While we’re bringing them democracy we can confiscate their weapons, and maybe a few billion barrels of oil.


KEVIN: I’m just not sure it’s sustainable.

BUSH: It doesn’t have to be sustainable. We’ll have 100 percent of the market in less than a year. You’ll see. Before you can say “Saddam Hussein,” there will be “Mission Accomplished” signs everywhere.

KEVIN: Okay. You’ve got yourself a deal!

“Middle East Democracy” UPDATE:  The business shut down after eight years and a total investment of $2.4 trillion.  Neither Iraq nor any other Middle East country is currently importing democracy from the United States.  On the bright side, the region has not exported a terrorist attack to the U.S. since 2001.  When asked if they planned any future activity in America, an Al Qaida spokesperson responded, “How do you expect us to compete in your country when the market is dominated by domestic suppliers?”

For what it’s worth.

Ebb and Flow

This morning POLITICO.COM released a Morning Consult survey of likely GOP 2024 primary voters.  The question, “What is important to you in your choice for the 2024 Republican presidential nominee?”  #1: A conservative (79 percent).  #2: Under the age of 70 (69 percent).  No surprises there.  But #3 gets interesting.  Has decades of political experience (53 percent).  Taken together, #2 and #3 suggest these voters are ready to abandon Trump.

Two caveats.  First, the article was not clear whether these were choices Morning Consult presented to respondents or if it was an open-ended question.  What is conspicuously absent is an attribute that seems to be the GOP’s core political strategy, “Owning the Libs.”  That is what creates the energy at campaign rallies regardless of the candidate.  After all, from the Republican party’s point of view, their prime directive is to save America from the “wascally wadical wabbits from non-wed states.” (NOTE:  Even I was not expecting the connection between Jean-Luc Picard and Elmer Fudd.)

Second, attribute #3 refers to “political experience.”  What does that mean?  Does someone who constantly runs for office but never wins meet that standard?  Did it imply “government” or “Washington, D.C.” experience?  Even those terms are less than monolithic.  Consider the presidents from 1932 to today and their experience before taking the presidential oath of office.

  • Franklin Roosevelt (governor)
  • Harry Truman (senator and vice-president)
  • Dwight Eisenhower (general)
  • John Kennedy (senator)
  • Lyndon Johnson (senator and vice-president)
  • Richard Nixon (senator and vice-president)
  • Gerald Ford (congressman and vice-president)
  • Jimmy Carter (governor)
  • Ronald Reagan (governor)
  • George H. W. Bush (congressman, CIA director, vice-president)
  • Bill Clinton (governor)
  • George W. Bush (governor)
  • Barack Obama (senator)
  • Donald Trump (?)
  • Joe Biden (senator and vice-president)

With the two exceptions of Eisenhower and Trump, the ebb and flow of how a future president cuts his teeth in public service is obvious.  From Truman to Ford, the most likely path was through Congress.  Carter to W. was dominated by governors.  In 2008, the pendulum swung back to legislators with one unfortunate exception.

You surely know by now I am not someone who is going to give Republicans advice how to take back the White House.  I do not have to.  They already came up and executed the game plan.  I was “not in the room” but I was in the building in 1999 when every Republican governor decided to pick one of their own as the GOP nominee.  They then unanimously endorsed W.  As soon as each one announced they favored a fellow governor instead of anyone else from their own state, the contest was over.  Non-governors who challenged Bush including John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer and Steve Forbes collectively garnered less than one-third of the total primary votes.

Here is why, even if they wanted to, the GOP could not duplicate this strategy in 2024.  First, as demonstrated above, Republican senators are not going to concede the nomination to a governor.  They know this is again the era of Senate chamber to Oval Office. 

Second, GOP governors had control in several important primary states including Pennsylvania (Tom Ridge), New Jersey (Christine Whitman), Ohio (Bob Taft), Nevada (Kenny Guinn), Michigan (John Engler), Illinois (George Ryan), Connecticut (John Rowland) and of course Florida (Jeb Bush).  Democrats now hold the governorship in five of those eight states.

Third, and maybe most important, the likelihood of a united front among the governors is slim to none.  Why?  Because the potential field runs the gamut along the MAGA/anti-MAGA continuum.  Chris Sununu (NH) or Larry Hogan (MD) are not going to align with Ron DeSantis (FL) or Kristi Noem  (SD).  Nikki Haley (SC) and Asa Hutchinson (AR) fall somewhere in between.

So Democrats, you have approximately six months to stock up on the popcorn.  We are more likely to see a replay of 2016 where Donald Trump plays whack-a-mole with the alternative du jour than a sequel to 2000: The World According to Bush.

For what it’s worth.



CRT: Now More Than Ever

Welcome to Black History month.  Or if you live in Florida, END OF BLACK HISTORY month.  Ironically, it is the loudest voices decrying “freedom of expression” in education and view their opponents as “snowflakes” who (1) are passing laws to limit free speech and (2) claim their children can not handle controversial topics.  As has been said on numerous occasions, these folks need to take the copy of the U.S. Constitution they use as a performance art prop out of their coat pockets and purses and actually read it.

If they did, you might not have a spokesperson for Florida governor Ron DeSantis tell us “the state education department is reviewing the revised (AP Black History) curriculum for compliance with Florida law.”  If DeSantis was ever to take an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” he would be committing perjury if he did not add the words “except for the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Forgive the brief lesson in Constitutional Law.  The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” among other things. For those of you who believe this restriction to Congress means it applies only to the federal government, you would be right if you lived in pre-1868 America.  Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment made the “incorporation doctrine” the new standard. According to Cornell University’s Law School, “The first ten amendments of the United State Constitution (know as the Bill of Rights) are made applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause.  Incorporation applies both substantively and procedurally.”

In what can only be described as 1984-style NewSpeak, the Florida Legislature passed and DeSantis signed HB 7, the “Individual Freedom Act” under which a public school teacher can be charged with a crime for mentioning “critical race theory (CRT).” That act defines CRT as the concept that “one race, color, national origin, or sex are morally superior to members of another race, color, national origin, or sex” and that “a person, by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin, or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”  Hard to disagree, except that it is not true.

An honest discussion about CRT should start with a more accurate description.  Per the Encyclopedia Britannica:

An intellectual and social movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.

In  other words, CRT specifically contradicts the false narrative that it accuses individuals of being racists.  The latest and best evidence is the beating death of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis black police officers.  Nichols was not the victim of a hate crime.  He was the victim of a public policy, the creation of the “Scorpion Squad,” an elite, specialized unit formed in 2021 to fight violent street crime.  The culture and training associated with the Scorpion Squad was colorblind. It did not matter if the members of the unit were white or black. 

The valuable lesson a CRT discussion in public schools could provide is that policy matters. If an excessive response to urban crime can turn Black police officers into alleged murderers of a brother who just wanted to get home, what other policies result in harmful outcomes? That conversation does not teach any black child to accuse a white classmate of racism or for any child to think he or she is superior to another. It implies just the opposite. Each of us, regardless of accident of birth or life experience is susceptible to the the same shortcomings of human nature. And it does not matter if children grow up to be a police officer or governor, they need to be cognizant of the power they wield and the consequences of misusing it.

Sadly, the Florida Department of Education and an increasing number of parents across the state think their precious snowflakes lack the intellectual capacity to appreciate the importance of that lesson.

For what it’s worth.

State of Anarchy: The Radio Play

You cannot pick up a book, turn on the television or go to a movie that does not include an apocalyptic vision of the future precipitated by terrorists, zombies or a pandemic. The only thing missing is an outbreak of national hysteria like the one created by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater on the Air broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.” To fill this entertainment vacuum, Deprogramming101 is proud to present “Contagion II: Florida Style.”

ANNOUNCER. The first warning came on January 30, 2023. Florida House Speaker Paul Renner announced he would be introducing a bill in the forthcoming special session which would “allow people to carry concealed firearms without a permit and without training.”

WOMAN #1: This can’t be happening. Surely the governor will veto it.

WOMAN #2: Wrong. DeSantis has already endorsed the legislation.

WOMAN #1: Law enforcement cannot be happy. The last thing they want is more guns in the hands of people who don’t know how to use them properly.

WOMAN #2: Wrong again. Al Nienhuis, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, was standing right next to Renner at the news conference.

ANNOUNCER: The first resistance came from an unlikely corner, the Florida Association of Cosmetology and Technical Schools (FACTS).

FACTS PRESIDENT: We can’t allow this to happen. If gunowners don’t need training and no longer pay application and yearly renewal fees for a concealed carry permit, why should cosmetologists have to pass a state exam and pay for a license. I know the code says it is in the interest of public health and safety, but when was the last mass-casualty permanent or pedicure?

ANNOUNCER: AAA soon followed suit.

AAA SPOKESPERSON: WTF, why do gunowners get a free ride and we still pay for drivers licenses and vehicle registration?

CROWD: No more fees! No more fees!

AAA SPOKESPERSON: And why do we have to take driving lessons and pass a test?

CROWD: No more tests! No more tests!

ANNOUNCER: The contagion spread. Every trade association, every professional began asking, “Why us and not them?” All hell broke loose when the Florida ABA filed a class action suit on behalf of every licensed professional in the state.

ABA PRESIDENT: Speaker Renner’s proposal is a clear violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Every Floridian is entitled to equal protection under the law. If Renner’s bill passes and the governor signs it, the state motto should be, “Where PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY come to die!”

ANNOUNCER: But Florida Man Ron DeSantis stood his ground. Falsely claiming the federal Consumer Protection Agency would ban gas appliances, the next day he proposed a permanent sales tax exemption on all such devices.

FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT LOBBYIST: There he goes again. He just made people who cook with gas a protected class. Talk about minority politics. Only eight percent of Florida homes have gas appliances and most of them are latte liberals. Don’t working Americans with electric appliances have rights?

CROWD (wearing MEGA caps): Make electricity great again! Make electricity great again!

SPEAKER RENNER: Who would have thought it would come to this?

SPEAKER’S AIDE: Everybody.

SPEAKER RENNER: Governor, what are we going to do? Without fees and a sales tax, the state will go bankrupt. How will we pay for the election police? Or monitor school libraries? Or cover the travel costs of asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard?

GOVERNOR DESANTIS: Paul, there’s only one thing we can do. Propose something more outrageous that will make everyone forget the less outrageous things we do.

SPEAKER RENNER: Are you sure you really want to do that.

GOVERNOR DESANTIS. It’s the only thing we can and must do. PERIOD!

For what it’s worth.

What’s My Lyin’?

In the infancy of broadcast television, game shows were a popular prime time staple. There were two varieties. Big money quiz shows like “The $54,000 Question,” which really was big money in its day. The grand prize is more than $650,000 in current dollars. The second category was an excuse to watch unscripted celebrities showcase their knowledge and wit while solving a contestant’s occupation (“What’s My Line?”) or deciding which of three contestants was who he or she claimed to be (“To Tell the Truth”).

I thought about these programs while watching the reboot of “Night Court” and viewing a promo for the return of “Magnum, P.I.” Games shows are also part of this trend. Michael Strahan is the new Allen Ludden on “The $100,000 Pyramid.” To give you some idea how important Ludden was to the game show genre, it takes THREE Manning brothers –Peyton, Eli and the third guy (Cooper)–to fill his shoes on “College Bowl.”

Maybe it is time to bring back “What’s My Line,” which aired on CBS from 1950 until 1967. The final segment of each show required the panel be blindfolded before a famous “mystery guest” came on stage. So close your eyes, adjust those rabbit ears and tune in as host John Charles Daly (not to be confused with golfer John Daly) welcomes tonight’s celebrity contestant to be interrogated by the panelists–publisher Bennet Cerf, journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, actor Arlene Francis and original Tonight Show host Steve Allen.

Daly: Now we come to the special feature of our program and welcome our celebrity, our big and important guest. Our panel would certainly recognize our guest on sight. So we provided them with blindfolds. Will you please come in mystery guest and sign in. (Audience gasps and then wildly applauds.)

Alright panel, as you know, we get right down to the business of the mystery guest, so we’ll begin the questioning with Bennett Cerf.

Cerf: Judging from the audience reaction you are a very famous person. Are you in the entertainment world?

Guest: Sim, senhor.

Cerf: Have you been an actor?

Guest: Sim.

Cerf: Are you still an actor?

Guest: Sim.

Cerf: Would I recognize any of the plays, movies or television shows you have been in?

Daly: That’s a no. Miss Francis.

Francis: Are you famous for your ability to sing and dance?

Guest: Absolutely.

Francis: Do you play parts in different accents since you’re so well equipped for it?

Guest: Oui, madam.

Francis: Have you ever won an Oscar or a Tony.

Guest: Yes and yes.

Francis: Are you Lawrence Olivier?

Guest: (Hesitates) Non.

Daly: Mr. Allen.

Allen: Can I assume you graduated from lighter things and have gone on to something more pretentious?

Guest: Yes.

Allen: Is your acting of a more serious nature at the present time?

Guest: No.

Daly: Miss Kilgallen.

Kilgallen: If your acting is not serious at the moment, is it comedic?

Guest: Not intentionally.

Kilgallen: Have you appeared on the New York stage in the past year?

Guest: Yes.

Kilgallen: Are you a former athlete?

Guest: Yes.

Kilgallen: Are you also a philanthropist?

Guest: Yes.

Kilgallen: I think I know. Are you Anthony Zabrovsky?

Guest: No.

Cerf: Are you Anthony Devolder?

Guest: No.

Francis: Are you Brazilian drag queen Kitara Ravache?

Guest: No.

Allen: Are you George Santos?

Guest: No.

Kilgallen: Are you all of the above?

(The guest begins to answer but is interrupted by Daly.)

Daly: YES! It’s none other than the poster boy for the Republican Congress and man of a thousand falsehoods. George, you fooled our panel just like you fooled the voters of the 3rd district of New York. And I understand you may soon appear on a special edition of “To Tell The Truth” with guest host Margaret Garnett, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Santos: Only if they let me take the Fifth.

Daly: That’s our show for tonight. Thanks to the panel and our very special guest whoever he may be. And join us next week when we ask members of the 118th Congress GOP leadership, “What’s My Lyin’?”

NOTE: Much of the dialogue and many of the questions in this post were taken verbatim from a 1952 episode of “What’s My Line” on which Desi Arnaz was the mystery guest.

For what it’s worth.